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Germany 'ready to rebuild Iraq'

Blair Schroeder
Blair and Schroeder put aside differences to focus on Iraq's future.

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• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide
Tony Blair
Gerhard Schroeder

BERLIN, Germany -- Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder says Germany, which opposed the war in Iraq, is committed to helping rebuild the war-torn country.

Germany is ready "to make a contribution" to the reconstruction of Iraq and "strongly help" move along the democratization process, Schroeder told reporters after a meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"It does not make sense whatsoever to dig into historic reasonings about who wanted or didn't want what when it came to Iraq. That is all a past argument," Schroeder said Thursday.

Britain was Washington's chief ally in toppling Saddam Hussein's regime.

Blair said that "whatever the different positions of our country in relation to the conflict, I think everyone wants to see Iraq as ... a democratic, a prosperous country."

The two leaders also addressed concerns by Italy, Spain and some other European Union states that growing closeness among Britain, Germany and France could lead to a small group of countries imposing its will on the rest of the bloc.

Blair denied that the three countries wanted to create an inner directorate to dominate the EU.

"I think it is important to realize this is not about trying to agree some directoire in Europe at all," Blair said. Ten nations join the EU in May, bringing the total membership to 25.

"I think it is important that we try and work at these issues together not in any sense at all to exclude any countries," Blair said.

The two leaders are due to meet with French President Jacques Chirac in Berlin next week in the latest in a series of such summits.

Schroeder said Germany and Britain had a strong interest in working together ahead of an EU economic summit in March.

"You know that we both have a strong engagement in European industrial policy," Reuters quoted Schroeder as saying.

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